Friday, September 8, 2017

To a New Beginning in Healthcare, Our First Steps

Orientation in the Hafter Center
I wanted to come to Salus University since I was 14 years old with a dream of becoming an optometrist. With eight years of anticipation and diligent preparation, orientation week began. It took a solid hour just to choose an outfit for the first day. Even though orientation started at 8:30 am, I, along with numerous others, arrived before 7:30 am. We waited in our cars anxiously for someone to get out and walk in first. As we walked in, I could feel the excitement and nervousness in the air.

What should have been an hour wait, felt like mere minutes. Students poured into the Hafter Center dressed professionally and ready to become graduate students of a heath profession. Dr. Michael H. Mittelman, President of Salus University, greeted us and offered inspirational advice on becoming great healthcare professionals. He stressed empathy, which I found to be a very insightful tip that I hadn’t previously considered.

Dave & Buster's in the
Plymouth Meeting Mall
Orientation week was full of resources meant to aid us in our preparation for our respective fields. This included a resource fair full of clinics, banks, information on The Eye Institute, Learning Resource Center, and military programs. We had a session on financial planning that opened my eyes into the world of investing and reminded us to still live like students the first few years out of school. We were also introduced to budgeting apps and debt calculators. I found the session on cultural awareness to be very interesting and insightful. Coming from a rural town in Pennsylvania, I was not used to much diversity, while Philadelphia is rich in other cultures. This session went over how to be sensitive to patients and intuitive to the various cultures one encounters when working in the healthcare field.

While it was nice to spend our days in orientation, it was wonderful having the after-orientation events. These included trivia and a trip to Dave and Busters. I was quite worried for trivia, as it was entitled, “Pop Culture Trivia” and I know very little to nothing about this topic. All and all my team didn’t do too shabby. It was a great way to interact with our classmates and make some new friends. Dave and Busters was a great time too -- their Dance Dance Revolution machine was far harder than we had anticipated but we made it out alive. Just as my card ran out, I miraculously hit 1,000 tickets. It was a nice end to a long day!


President Mittelman speaking at
theWhite Coat ceremony
While orientation week was exciting, I was itching to start classes. But first, we had the White Coat Ceremony. This year it was held in the Kimmel Center in Center City, Philadelphia. This was the first time I had taken a subway into Philadelphia, but alas, I made it unscathed. The venue was absolutely beautiful, with glass windows surrounding us and wood paneling coating the theater. The ceremony was very inspirational as it welcomed us into the world of health professionalism. With our white coats on, we recited in unison the Oath to Professionalism. It felt like a graduation in a sense, like we were ready to take on the world. In reality, we are just getting started to take on the challenges of graduate school. It was a great way to begin our new journey! 



White Coat Ceremony
at the Kimmel Center



 ~ Sabrina is a first year optometry student at Salus University




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summertime in Philly

Photo Credit: www.americantrails.org
Summertime on campus has been refreshing in comparison to the hustle and bustle of fall and spring semesters. The whole campus has seemed to quiet down, with everyone more relaxed and enjoying the beautiful weather.  Another great perk of being in the area are all the activities going on in Elkins Park and Center City, Philadelphia. Summertime is a great opportunity to get outside and truly explore your new home!

A new summertime favorite of mine has been exploring the parks and hiking in the area. Just last weekend, I was able to make a trip down to Delaware to Brandywine State Park. Fortunately we had great weather, and hiked both Saturday and Sunday for a total of 8 miles! If traveling to Delaware seems too far, it is always great to check out things we have in our own backyards like Valley Forge. In addition to learning about American history, there are running and hiking trails galore. The park is huge, and you can also explore by car. When I went, it ended up raining so I was able to tour around the park in my car while listening to a “cell phone tour”. It was a great activity for a rainy day. If you’re looking for something even closer to home, Elkins Park and Cheltenham have a great system of public parks for walking or running.
            
Another great aspect of summertime in Philly is all the wonderful concerts and talented musicians who come to town. Philly has great venues perfect for any genre of music. On my list to check out this summer are the Mann Center, World Café Live, and The Electric Factory. Each of these venues offers something unique and brings in great talent. The Mann Center for example is bringing Harry Potter to life at the end of July with the Philadelphia Orchestra. With lawn seating available, most concerts are reasonably priced and not to be missed!
Photo Credit:  http://www.visitphilly.com
                
Lastly, Philadelphia is a great city for beer lovers! Philly has a beer garden for everyone that each offers a unique experience. It’s a great way to be outside and enjoy a cold one. With so many options, there is always a new place to check out and explore with your friends.

No matter what you decide to do, the Philly area has something to offer to anyone. So take a break from school when you can, and get out there to explore!




-Elisa is a second year audiology student at Salus University

Friday, April 28, 2017

Work Study Program

As I was starting to look into graduate school, one of the most daunting things to take into consideration was the cost. While it’s very common for graduate students to take out loans to cover the cost of their education, it can still be an overwhelming process, especially when you realize how much debt you will inevitably accumulate by the end of your time in any health profession graduate school. My mind was put at ease during orientation our first week at Salus University, when we were given a presentation on how to manage loans after we graduate and how it is possible to live comfortably while paying off your debt. As an optometry student, I have been assured by other optometrists that it will not burden you for the rest of your life if you handle your money wisely. However, I still try to minimize the amount of money I owe wherever possible.

One way that I would suggest to reduce your loans as a student is to sign up for the Federal Work-Study program. Many people do not take advantage of this program, and it is a great way to earn money throughout the semester when it’s convenient for your schedule. When filling out an application for financial aid, you can choose to sign up for work study as well. Choosing to partake in work study reduces the amount of federal loans that you take out each semester, and the money does not have to be re-paid.  A student also chooses the amount of hours they can realistically work per week when they sign up, and it can be divided among various departments on campus. However, it is important to note that you should not sign up for 20 hours a week if you realistically will only work 5 of those hours. You will have a larger work study fund in your financial aid package, but your loans will also be reduced by that much. If you are counting on the work study money to help you pay for expenses throughout the semester, it is important to ensure you are able to work the allotted time to earn the money you need.

For me, work study was a great option because I have a small paycheck coming in every two weeks without having to juggle a part-time job outside of school. The money helps to pay for groceries and other expenses throughout the week. While some people may be able to fit in a part time job in their schedule, I knew it would not be possible for me on top of balancing my studies and my sanity. Instead, I am able to work a couple hours here and there throughout the week, during a break in my class schedule or at night. There are plenty of jobs around campus for students. I currently work in the Office of Communications and as a Teaching Assistant in the Optometry Clinical Skills Lab. There are also jobs in the library, the gym, admissions office, etc. Each department offers different shift options so it’s important to look into what kind of hours they require and whether or not it will work with your schedule. Some jobs, like the Learning Resource Center and Hafter Student Community Center, offer weekend shifts if you don’t want to try and schedule another commitment during the week. No matter what your preference is, there are work study jobs to fit everyone’s schedule. Having work study here has been a great way to earn some spending money throughout the week and help me minimize the amount of loans I’ve taken out thus far. Although it may not seem like much in comparison to the cost of going to graduate school, every little bit helps. Make sure to explore the idea if it works for you when filling out your financial aid package!




-Kelsey is a second year optometry student at Salus University


Friday, March 24, 2017

Breaking Free!

Wissahickon Valley Park | Photo Credit:TripAdvisor
As we start to move into the month of April and the weather begins to warm up, so does the pace of exams, finals and practicals. As a student, it can be hard to get outside and enjoy the nicer days when there seems to be endless work to do. However, as stressful as school can be, one of the best ways to deal with it is to get active and exercise. Graduate school makes it a little tougher than college to do that since you’re sitting in class most days from 8-5 and then spending the night studying.  A weekly exercise routine is still possible and important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While some students find relief by hitting the gym before or after a long day of learning, it is understandable that others find the gym tedious or monotonous. Many of us have heard the spiel about the benefits of exercising regularly, both for a student’s mental and physical health. Luckily, the Philadelphia area (and Salus University) offer many different options to help students stay active throughout the year in ways that don’t involve a treadmill or weightlifting. And of course, many options that fall within the tight budget we have as students.

The flowers and trees are beginning to bloom again, making many of the areas parks a perfect place to walk off the studying blues. My personal favorite is the Wissahickon Valley Park in Chestnut Hill. The Wissahickon Creek flows throughout the park surrounding the 50 miles of hiking trails. The trails are offer gorgeous views as you make your way up the mountain. There is also a path for those who prefer to bike or prefer a flatter trail. Alverthorpe Park is only a 5 minute drive from the school, making it a good option when you need a break from the library or just can’t practice in the lab anymore. A quick search on google will reveal more parks and hiking trails in the area, giving someone lots of options when choosing where they would like to go depending on how far they are willing to travel.  

Students and Faculty attend a class in the Hafter Student Community Center 
For those who prefer to stay inside away from the bugs and heat, the Hafter Student Community Center on campus offers intramural sports and exercise classes to beat the monotony of working out. Intramural sports rotate throughout the year; basketball in the fall and volleyball in the spring. There is currently no school sponsored intramural sport during the summer. Even when scheduled games are not happening, you can often find a pick-up game in the Hafter gym of either volleyball or basketball. Workout classes are also offered five days a week, depending on the instructor’s schedule, and the classes vary each day. Pilates, yoga and cycling are just a few of the classes offered and attendance is included in tuition for students. If you want to get a break from campus and venture out, there are also several studios and gyms in the area that you can find on Groupon which make it affordable to branch out and try a new place within a couple miles of Salus University. Martial arts, rock climbing and kick boxing are just a few of the different activities offered in the surrounding area.

If you’re willing to splurge and treat yourself (and have access to transportation), there are a few more fun things I’d recommend trying for a study break. Last summer my friends and I ventured over to New Jersey where we went tubing along the Delaware River. Tickets and rentals came to about $50 for the day on a weekend, but this also included a lunch along the river. While tubing down the river, some of us ventured off the tubes and swam around while others just floated along. We enjoyed a day of sunshine and laughs as all 15 of us tried to stay together along the entire journey. Make sure to secure all your belongings along the ride so you don’t lose anything! It was an awesome way to get away from school and do something active together. Last winter we also took a break one afternoon and ventured to a trampoline park. For less than $20 we got a workout like no other (surrounded by a bunch of little kids and teenagers but we still had fun). While these activities require a little more time and money, they were awesome ways to get active and we enjoyed every minute of it!
Tubing along the Delaware River 

No matter what outlet you’re looking for to get physical, the Philadelphia area has it to offer. Each student has access to the gym on campus, but there are several ways to get creative if you can’t see yourself using it. One of my biggest pieces of advice for surviving graduate school is working small breaks into your routine to give your mind and body a break. I’ve found that it not only makes me feel better, but I’m able to focus and absorb more material while I’m studying. It also makes paying attention in class a little bit easier because I don’t feel so restless all the time. These daily habits not only help you get through the stress of school while here at Salus University, but help to set you up with a healthy routine for the rest of your life. 











-Kelsey is a second year optometry student at Salus University



Friday, March 3, 2017

Planning for the Weekend

Salus University Learning Resource Center

When you think of what a typical week at Salus University will look like, it may not be too different than what you’re experiencing in undergrad. There’ll be classes most days, labs that go a long with most of these classes and then you have time in clinic where you go from observing, to performing some of the skills you learn in lab, to finally performing full comprehensive exams. That’s the part of your schedule that usually doesn’t change a whole lot. Most days I bounce from class, to the library, to the café, to lab, back to the library before I crawl into my bed hopefully by midnight. It’s a long grueling week, but the time you have in the clinic and lab really help break up the monotony of lectures – so take advantage of them! The biggest difference in your schedule from undergrad/real world working life/whatever you have been doing until now is your free time on the weekends.

In undergrad I never had to organize or even think of what I would be doing on the weekends. It was always some combination of time lounging around my fraternity house during the day mixed with a little studying at the library. Nights were always reserved to unwinding with friends or going out on the town (which was in middle of nowhere Pennsylvania so it wasn’t much). However, when you start graduate school your weekends are a lot more valued because it’s the only time you have full days of uninterrupted free time. You don’t have to worry about trying to read an article before your next class or how much time you have to eat lunch before you need to rush off to The Eye Institute. That’s why I learned pretty quickly that planning out how you’re going to utilize your weekends is vital to maintaining self-care, catching up on the tasks you never got to during the week, and preparing yourself for the busy week ahead.

Salus students at Hafter
My biggest tip or advice for Friday nights might sound a little lame, but I’m telling you it’ll be worth it if you listen. Whether your last class on Friday gets done at noon, 3 PM, or 5 PM try to get in two or three hours of solid studying before you let your brain enter “weekend mode”. Chances are you have a test, quiz, or practical the following week, so why not get a jump start? That way, when you have time to relax later that night or that weekend, you can do it soundly with no guilt weighing on your mind. After some studying, I try to leave the rest of Friday night to unwind and give my mind a break. Whether that involves grabbing dinner with friends, catching a movie, or having game night I try to do something social. In the Salus optometry program we’re split into sections so our labs and clinic schedules differ among classmates. Friday nights are the perfect time to catch up with friends and hear about the interesting things they saw in clinic that week or you do what I do and try to talk about anything but school (leave that in the confines of Salus). Sometimes we have Saturday clinic that goes until the late afternoon, but if you’re lucky enough to have Saturday off try to start your morning with something productive that will jump start your day and get you in a positive mindset. For my friends and I that usually involves playing volleyball at the Hafter Student Community Center, or I’ll try and do some cooking to prep for the following week (because who has time to cook), or catch up on the mountains of laundry I have been avoiding. After that, hit the books! If you can commit a few hours of hard work during the day, with productive breaks in between, you’ll feel a lot better when you’re binge watching your favorite show you’ve missed later that night.

Kitchen Bar | Photo Credit: Kitchenbar.net
I’m sure you have all heard of the "Sunday scaries" and I’ll let you know they don’t end in graduate school. But hopefully you’ve been so productive all weekend that Sunday can be more relaxed and you can chase away those Sunday blues with brunch at Kitchen Bar, right down the road from school. Sundays are the day I save for getting all my lectures printed, quizzes studied for, and clinic outfits picked out for the week. I try not to stress myself out too much (unless I have an exam the next day) but get all of those tasks done that will make my week go smoother. And Sunday mornings are always perfect for the dreaded chore that is grocery shopping. If you commit to forcing yourself to get things done during the day you won’t have a worry in the world when you’re relaxing later on.

Weekends are always welcomed as a relief to the stresses of the week, and in graduate school they’re relished even more. By all means everyone’s weekend is going to look different and not everyone has quite the plan like I do, but I truly believe that if you think ahead to what your weekend goals are, it’ll make the next school week free of headaches. You may not think of it if you’re used to being on a meal plan, but trust me cooking takes far too long and is the last thing you want to do after being at school for eight hours. Thankfully weekends offer the hours you need to take care of yourself and your school work so you can continue to be the best student possible and get the most out of every day at Salus University. 



- Chad is a second year optometry student at Salus University

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Getting the Most out of Grad School


Salus University Orientation Summer 2016
The first day of orientation for Salus University is something I’ll never forget. Looking around at the sea of new students in their professional best, it seemed as though everyone was full of excitement and anticipation. While it appeared everyone’s attention was focused on meeting the new people around them and figuring out who was in what program, every few seconds eyes were darting toward the small stage and microphone at the front of the gymnasium – anxious to begin. Graduate schools brought about a new excitement and promise that undergrad had not: Ending your schooling with a job in the profession you had dreamed about. Until this point going to school and getting good grades always seemed mundane because you were achieving your highest just in hopes of being accepted into another school, to go to more classes, and take more tests. Being involved in clubs and community service started to become something you did just to impress the member of a panel, scholarship selection committee, or to fill another line on your application. But in graduate school, that all changes.

Day one of class introduced Dr. Lombardi, one of the smartest and most knowledgeable professors I have ever encountered. The class was Head and Neck Anatomy and her ability to name the muscles, actions, innervations, and relation to ocular conditions left me with my mouth hanging open. It was on our break between the first and second hour of class that it hit me—my ability to retain knowledge was no longer for the purpose of acing the test, now it was dependent on me providing my patient with the best care possible by knowing the ins and outs of the eye and its tissues. While at first, this feeling created a huge lump in my throat, I quickly realized this wasn’t something to be intimidated by, but a feeling I could channel into learning all that I was able. Graduate school really put the ball in my court and it was now up to me to decide how much I would get out of every lecture and lab. This was a theme I quickly realized would trickle down through everything I participated in while at Salus.

Realizing everything you’re learning in class has a practical input in your career field helps you to hang onto every word the professor says, study every diagram with intent, and try to master every skill you learn in the clinical setting. After settling into the new style of lectures and labs that were different from my classes in undergrad, I decided it was time to check out the different clubs and organizations that graduate school had to offer.

AOSA at the Wormington 5k
While the list was long and had a spectrum of clubs to suit any interest, I decided to really focus my energy on the activities that would translate into my career after graduation. Instead of trying to get my hand into every pot, why not really focus on what I enjoyed and activities that would help me grow as a person and an optometrist? That is how I came about getting involved in the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) as the Director of Internal Affairs. I knew I wanted to learn more about my profession and its governing body, the American Optometric Association, so joining its student branch seemed like a great fit. By dedicating my time outside of class and clinic to the activities that I have grown passionate about, I have been able to learn about the advocacy side of optometry and how passing bills in the Senate and House dictate the scope of practice. The best part is, after I walk across the stage on graduation day, all my hard work in this club doesn’t end there, but it translates in my participation as a practicing optometrist. 

While graduate school can seem scary or daunting at first, and you may want to try and immediately spread yourself thin like many of us did in undergrad, really take the time to think about what you want to get out of it by graduation day. This is the time to take in as much knowledge as you can and focus your efforts on the activities that are going to elevate you in the profession you are working towards. Salus provides you with the tools and support necessary to become the best in your profession; it’s just up to you to put in the work necessary, get advice and help from the outstanding faculty and professors, and navigate your personal interests so that your educational experience is tailored to you.


- Chad is a second year optometry student at Salus University

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

School’s Out Forever! – Or Not…

Salus University AuD Class of 2020 

Five years after graduating from college, I decided to go back to school to study Audiology at Salus University. I was excited to start learning and move forward with my career but also pretty nervous. Transitioning to a rigorous graduate program would definitely take some adjustment. It’s not as if I had just been binge watching Netflix and going out to brunch every day but I certainly was no longer used to being a full-time student. It is natural to worry about going back to school after a few (or more) years away. Here’s a few of my pre-grad school worries and thoughts on how to make it through:

Adjusting to the schedule: Since my undergrad graduation, I have been relatively successful at keeping a schedule. I filled my time with plenty of full-time work and volunteer experiences, complimented by a healthy social life. Typically I had a “9 to 5” schedule, and at 5 o’clock I went home. When I was away from work, I was rarely thinking about work. I went on vacations for weeks at a time and I could leave town every weekend if I felt so inclined (who doesn’t want to go to Bermuda in February?). The decision to go back to school initiated a big change in lifestyle. There would be little to no “time off” and there would be homework, lots of homework. I had to learn how to manage my time in a completely new way. I had to organize my schedule for school but also try to fit in the other aspects of my life that keep me sane. Since I was no longer able to leave town on a whim to clear my head, I had to find little things that I can do on a regular basis to help me stay focused. For me that includes a part-time job, a religious community, and a regular yoga class. It is impossible to be studying all day every day. Remember that you are a person, not a machine!

Connecting with your classmates: First of all, going back to school in your late 20s (like me) is a totally normal thing to do. Going back to school anytime is an amazing thing to do and you should never feel like it’s too late to get an education! However, there are a whole lot of students who are driven/crazy enough to go straight from their undergraduate program into a graduate program. And because of this, you (like me) could be worried that they will think you are old and weird; maybe you feel out of the loop socially. Well, not to worry, everyone at Salus just happens to be really nice. Honestly, I was so surprised at how welcoming the other students were and how they did not care when they found out that I was born before 1990. I was also surprised to find that I was not alone. There were other students who were in a very similar point of life when they decided to go back to school. Now, maybe we don’t hang out on the weekends and I still go back to NY as often as I can to see my friends, but we have a solid bond in our class. I have also found my younger classmates to be a strength to me because they remember what they studied in undergrad biology classes, whereas I do not. And luckily they are more than happy to share their knowledge. I should really thank admissions for only letting nice people into this school. Remember to give people a chance to surprise you!

Being in “student mode” again: Right before I came to Salus I was working at a hospital as a hearing screener for newborn babies. I loved my job, which is how I ended up going back to school. I was nervous to go to lectures, take exams, to study from a textbook. It’s been several years since I did any of that. I was afraid my time away from school would be a disadvantage. But since starting this program, I have found that my experiences before coming back to school have really helped me to be a better student. I find that I am more motivated than I was in my undergraduate program. I have a much greater desire to learn everything and I am not afraid to ask questions. The material is difficult, but it’s also fascinating. It took a couple weeks to get used to sitting through several hours of lecture and to translate my notes into something I could study from. But the struggle was worth the effort. There are times when I feel like I ask a lot of questions, but it helps everyone in the end. Remember that you may come into a class with a completely different perspective–but that’s a good thing!

So just enjoy the opportunity to focus 100% of your energy on your given field. The transition will take some time, and when graduation rolls around it will be a whole new balancing act. Speaking for myself, I hope to take full advantage of the next few years and reap the benefits of the education I receive. Besides, I can always go to Bermuda some other time.


- Ellen is a first year audiology student at Salus University